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Reopening plans and adapting to Covid-19 restrictions: Broom Swim School's story

As pools prepare to reopen on Monday 12 April, it means swim schools can also begin offering lessons once again. Alice Dott caught up with Sallie Walters, the owner of Broom Swim School, to find out the work they have put in ahead of reopening.

It’s a comprehensive list of tasks – but it shows the lengths swim schools are taking to ensure they can safely reopen on Monday 12 April.

Broom Swim School, a Swim England affiliated swim school, will be restarting its Learn to Swim Programme having completed a reopening checklist.

Sallie Walters, the joint owner of Broom Swim School, broke down the tasks into five key areas – customers, staff, training, facilities and Covid-19.

The table shows the key areas Sallie and her team have worked on in the days leading up to reopening following third national lockdown.

Like many others, Broom Swim School has not been immune from the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sallie calculated that in 2020 they had 28 weeks of trading of which 17 weeks were restricted trading.

Throughout the first lockdown they regularly updated their customers with the Covid-19 guidance and provided advice to them on their Facebook page, via email and they also spoke to a few of their members over the phone.

They reopened on the 25th July 2020 and they found that people were very keen to get back in the pool.

Sallie said: “There was absolutely no hesitation from any of our customers to come back.

“Bizarrely, some of the older more fragile customers were keenest to come back.”

Despite the challenges faced, there were plenty of positives for Sallie and her team.

Family-style lessons

Throughout the summer holiday period, they had to alter the usual lesson structure.

Broom Swim School decided to run family-style lessons as they didn’t want to put members of different families together.

In these lessons they would focus on particular strokes, such as front crawl.

Sallie said: “We had really positive family lessons… six year olds are often better than their parents!

“It was nice doing some really different lessons, we wouldn’t normally do. It was very positive and well received.”

Due to the success of these family sessions they have decided they will continue to run them in the summer holiday periods, as it allows families to bring their own cameras and video recorders, which are not allowed in public sessions.

“They could take a photo of Mum doing a handstand,” added Sally.

Relaxing environment

They also did more one-to-one lessons during this time and found that people were happy to pay a little extra because they hadn’t been able to have swimming lessons for 18 weeks.

They followed Swim England’s Return to the Pool guidance documents including implementing a ‘beach ready’ policy to either completely stop or substantially reduce the time spent in the changing rooms.

Everyone took this new policy on board, some more than others…

Sallie said: “Some people took it very much to heart, some people would drive with their hat on and goggles on their head to the pool.”

During the Autumn term, after reviewing the Swim England guidance on returning to lessons, they went back to groups of four children from different households being taught together.

They also took the decision to have no parents on the poolside, as they found that this created a more relaxing environment, was much quieter and therefore more conducive to learning.

They fed this back to the parents and have decided that due to the positive impact on learning that they will continue to do this post Covid-19.

Good programme

Both Sallie and her daughter and co-owner, Alice, have highlighted how Broom Swim School has benefited from being their Swim England membership.

She said: “The Learn to Swim programme, I really embrace – we follow it, it’s a good programme.

“We like to think we are that launch pad to infuse people into all types of aquatic activity really. Our pool is only 11.5 metres long and for the higher stages they need more space.

“I’m always encouraging others to get on board with Swim England, in order to give everyone a safe environment to swim in.”

Swim Schools who would like to receive regular updates from the Learn to Swim are being encouraged to join the Swim England free virtual coffee chats.

If you are already Swim School member, join the Swim School Network meetings.

To find out more, or to become a member, please email learntoswim@swimming.org

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